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what will really change

by drbyos

To access the interior of this old Motorola smartphone, unclip its shell then unscrew the large plastic cover shown here. Many recent smartphones are much more complex to bare. NICHOLAS SIX

The European Council must definitively adopt, on Wednesday July 12, the “batteries and battery waste” regulation, which aims in particular to accelerate recycling and facilitate the replacement of batteries, as well as to prohibit models with a poor carbon footprint. The text succeeds the old directive of 2006 and applies to all member countries of the European Union (EU), without needing to be transposed into their national law. Here are the highlights and the questions that remain.

Read also: The European Union adopts rules to green its batteries, from smartphones to cars

• “Easy” replacement

The new regulation requires, by 2028, the replacement of portable batteries to be « facile » in smartphones, computers, tablets, headphones, electric toothbrushes, etc. The intention is commendable, because at present this maneuver is reserved for DIYers. The text thus specifies that the disassembly must not require solvent or heat, which excludes that the batteries are stuck, as often today. “It’s a great step forward.judge Thomas Opsomer, the technical director of the iFixIt repair manual site, even if the use of more or less awkward adhesives is not prohibited. »

However, it is not imposed on manufacturers to return to the batteries of yesteryear, removable in thirty seconds with bare hands. The text prohibits neither burying the battery under other parts, which may discourage the apprentice repairer, nor connecting these parts with electronic cables a few millimeters wide, which are very difficult to disassemble and reassemble. are also exempted from “easy” dismantling devices “designed to operate primarily in an environment subject to regular splashes of water”. Will waterproof smartphones benefit from this exemption?

The margin of interpretation left to manufacturers, many of whom would prefer not to have to change the internal design of their devices, therefore remains quite large. “The Commission will in future publish texts aimed at clarifying certain pointsbelieves Julie Guillemet, lawyer at De Gaulle Fleurance. It remains to be seen how binding these will be.

If the EU regulation can be vague, it is partly because legislation is intended to last: prudence requires avoiding regulating too precisely the technical choices of the moment, called to pass. But for Thomas Opsomer, this is not the only explanation: “The EU often avoids being restrictive, to avoid that manufacturers accuse it of stifling their future innovations. (…) It was perhaps the somewhat vague nature of certain formulations that made it possible to reach a compromise. » Moreover, even if the EU had the will, “it would have great difficulty in defining in a concrete and objective way what an easy or quick dismantling step is”he judges.

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